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Community Gardening

Why buy pesticides-packed strawberries from the market when you can grow organic strawberries on your rooftop or balcony?

What is Community Gardening?

Community gardening (CG) is a gardening activity overtaken by people living in the same commune, neighborhood or street, aiming namely at securing their food. Community gardens, usually held on municipal lands, offers many advantages to the community involved in these activities, but also to people living around a community garden.

Benefits of community gardening

  • Opportunity for employment, education, and entrepreneurship opportunities for the people, including students, recent immigrants, and homeless people (Community Food Security Coalition, 2003)
  • Efficient use of vacant spaces and plots in the city, preventing these places to become a litter for criminal activities
  • A place where gardening lovers can share skills and expertise
  • Access to fresh, traditional food produce and nutritionally rich foods in low-income neighborhoods
  • Safe space for recreation and exercising
  • Creation of green and beautiful spaces in a crowded city, involving recycling and upcycling of material and organic waste
Mothers and kids from Al-Hiraki community kitchen in Malaak educational center in Halba

Urban Agriculture

According to the UNDP (1996), urban agriculture (UA) is a type of agricultural production consisting of crops cultivation and animal production within the boundaries of a certain town or a city. It can involve the use and reuse of natural resources and urban wastes such as organic waste for compost and urban wastewater for irrigation. It creates direct links between urban producers and consumers, as well as direct impacts on urban ecology.

In general, individuals with lower incomes participate in these sorts of activities; and women are usually a major contributor to urban agriculture due to the fact that a lot of the activities involved in this practice (ex: processing) can be easily combined with house duties.

This agricultural system is usually practiced on small to medium sized areas in the city such as vacant plots, home gardens (if available), containers on balconies or roof tops, road strips (if allowed to be used by the public) and on communal lands for community based gardening. A variety of crops can be grown in UA systems, depending on the space that is available and the structure that is used and the end-use of the product.

Even narrow flower boxes at the entrance of your building can be planted with food. Green onions in Amel center, Ain el-Remmaneh.

FHF approach to Community Gardening

Above all, the objective of Community Gardening and Urban Agriculture is to grow quality food for self-consumption. People usually get excited about the idea of growing their own foods because they get to be in control of the inputs involved in the production process, and ensure that the product they are consuming is healthy and safe. Moreover, the agricultural surplus can be sold to neighbors and friends. This type of gardening contributes to improving food security by increasing food availability all year round; hence it can be considered as a coping mechanism in severe food insecurity situations.

The Food Heritage Foundation is seeking to promote UA and CG among urban dwellers and school students as a mean to produce healthy food all year round as well as to green the crowded city. FHF also works on growing kitchen gardens linked to the community kitchens established through the foundation’s CK program.

Jew-mallow or “mouloukhiya” grown on a rooftop in Nabaa, Beirut